If you’re considering Apple’s expensive, $1000 iPhone X as your next smartphone then a just-below-premium Android phone probably isn’t on your radar. But the OnePlus 6 should be, for a few reasons. Well, five to be exact.
But how does it actually fare in the head-to-head stakes? And, more importantly, is it worth your money more so than Apple’s most expensive phone ever?
Half the price, not half the quality
At $529 for the base model, the OnePlus 6 is almost half the price of the iPhone X at $1000.
$1000 for a smartphone still boggles my mind. Apple products always come at a premium, and there’s perhaps good reason for it, considering the better thought-out technology that Apple packs into its devices compared with OnePlus.
The facial recognition technology on the iPhone X, for example, is secure enough to authorise mobile payments and bank app authentication – proper biometric security.
Features like that is why it costs more. But, but, that isn’t the whole story. As I noted with the Galaxy S9 comparison, the Chinese manufacturer is good at least mimicking certain high-end features to a lesser degree – such as the facial recognition technology – that gives its devices the air of expense without the actual expensive bits.
I think OnePlus is better at this than other second-tier manufactures. So if you want the best possible attempt at a high-end phone, then OnePlus leads the pack.
There are rumours that Apple is considering introducing dual sim functionality into future iPhones, but the OnePlus 6 has that feature right now.
It’s important, too. Dual sim functionality is the difference between being stung with a large phone bill abroad – and not. Having the option to switch between a local sim when you’re travelling will save money. Or, if you have a work phone number – or a seperate number for any other reason (no judgements here) – then you won’t need to carry a second phone. It’s an incredibly useful feature that should’ve been made standard in western phones years ago.
A different direction
Android P promises to be one of the biggest upgrades in Android’s history, and the OnePlus 6 is one of the 12 devices that has early access to it. Now, the question of which OS is better – iOS or Android – is near impossible to answer. They’ve copied each other so much down the years that they’re similar in many ways, whilst also reserving their respective strengths.
But Google is taking Android P, and its entire product offering, in a slightly different direction, of which Android P is the next step. Android P is the result of Google’s heavy focus on Assistant and AI, with increased automation at the core of the OS update. Check out my breakdown of Google’s vision for a smart smartphone for more detailed analysis.
New features like Your Match on Google Maps reduces restaurant research, adaptive battery and adaptive brightness eliminates endlessly toggling the settings. There’s also the new “Actions” and “Slices” which, in essence, reduce the amount of interaction needed to perform a particular task by providing relevant in-app information – or a task – when you need it.
Other stuff like Google lens, clearer Google Maps directions and Google Duplex (whenever it arrives), will be available – in beta form – for OnePlus owners too.
These features will be a very Android specific experience, which comes down to preference. If you want increased automation in your smartphone, or you buy into Google’s vision (and all of the questions about personal data that come with it), then OnePlus is a good way to go.
Old school fan favourite
The headphone jack isn’t the settled debate Apple, Google, Sony and others that followed suit thought it was when they culled it from their respective devices.
Samsung’s inclusion of the 3.5mm audio port both bucked the trend but also proved there’s still appetite for cabled headphones (without an annoying, and oddly expensive dongle). OnePlus has done exactly the same (as it has always done) and it’s a decision that couldn’t be more welcome.
In pure numbers, the OnePlus 6 has a significantly larger battery at 3300mAh, compared with the iPhone X’s 2716mAh. Add in the lower resolution full HD display of the OnePlus 6 and Android P’s upcoming Adaptive Battery saving feature, I suspect there’s more lasting power in the Android device. I need to test this properly in the coming days, but the early specs look good.
On the other hand…
As I mentioned earlier, the Apple takes what features it adds to its products fairly seriously. The facial recognition technology on the iPhone X is vastly more secure than OnePlus’ version, and it’s likely that anything similar won’t be available on Android for two years.
OnePlus also has a bad track record with security. Not just in comparison with Apple, but in general. In October last year security researcher Chris Moore found that the OnePlus phones running Oxygen OS were sending personally identifiable data to a server. Information like phone unlocks, app usage and details of Wi-fi networks were collected – all of which is pretty standard. The problem was that the phone’s IMEI number, phone number and mobile network it connects to were being transmitted too, which makes it easy to tie that data to the user.
Then, in November last year, OnePlus was caught up in a data breach that saw up to 40,000 people’s credit card details were stolen via OnePlus’ website. A major, trust dissolving data breach that’s hard to comeback from.
These are areas OnePlus needs to improve on (both of which have been rectified), and could potentially put off a buyer. So it’s important to weigh up whether or not the lower price is worth these kinds of slip ups